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SportsColumnistsAnthony Rieber

Yankees need a solution for Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran at DH

Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees

Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees reacts after striking out in the ninth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium on Thursday, May 26, 2016. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Well, it’s official: Carlos Beltran can’t hit as a rightfielder.

Beltran, who was hitting everything in sight as a designated hitter, went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts Thursday in the Yankees’ 3-1 loss to the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium.

Beltran was forced to play the outfield — which he loves to play, by the way — because of the return of Alex Rodriguez from the disabled list.

A-Rod, in his first appearance since May 3, went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts against J.A. Happ and Roberto Osuna.

Before you hit “send” on your incredulous email, just know it was only a joke about Beltran not being able to hit when he plays the outfield. (Didn’t say it was funny.)

One person who definitely didn’t find the topic rib-tickling is Joe Girardi.

“I’m sure it all had to do with him being in rightfield,” Girardi said, the sarcasm filling the postgame press room. “I’m sure. He was 0-for-4 [Wednesday night], too.

“Let’s not keep stirring this and stirring this and everything we overevaluate. Carlos had a rough day. A lot of our righthanders had a rough day today off of Happ. Alex is going to DH. Carlos is going to DH some, too.”

Now Girardi could have laughed off the ridiculous premise that Beltran forgot how to hit for one game once he trotted out to right. Asking that kind of question is like poking a cranky bear, which Girardi seemed to be after the Yankees wasted a terrific start from CC Sabathia (seven innings, two unearned runs) and fell two games under .500 in the rubber match against the Jays.

Over time, playing the field too often could sap Beltran’s strength and lead to diminished production. That’s legit. But with Rod riguez back from his two-game rehab stint at Double-A Trenton, this is the way the Yankees will line up most games.

“I felt good today out there, honestly, after being the DH for I don’t know how many days,” said Beltran, who is batting .322 as a DH and .236 as a rightfielder. “Having Alex back in the lineup, we know that Alex is a guy that can hit and is a guy that can impact a game with one swing of the bat. Right now, he just needs to see some games and hopefully he’s able to get his timing.”

Rodriguez, who was greeted warmly in his first game in the Bronx since April 24, swung at the first pitch he saw and grounded to short against Happ. He also struck out and hit a fly ball to right against the lefthander, who improved to 6-2 by allowing one run in seven innings.

Beltran and Rodriguez both struck out against hard-throwing closer Osuna in the ninth, A-Rod on a 3-and-2 slider.

“It’s 0-for-4,” Rodriguez said. “It’s not really much to evaluate. I thought the last at-bat was pretty competitive. Osuna threw a pretty good pitch 3-2.”

With the oh-fer, Rodriguez’s average dropped to .184. There’s no timetable on how patient the Yankees will be with him, but Girardi already has said A-Rod won’t play every single day. Girardi called it “rest” for A-Rod.

“I don’t need rest now,” Rod riguez said. “I’ve been resting for three weeks.”

It was a joke. (Didn’t say that one was funny, either.)

“Usually Joe makes the right calls,” Rodriguez said. “Whatever he wants, I’m fine with. I’m just excited to be playing baseball and get back and contribute.”

With Mark Teixeira out because of neck spasms, the Yankees need A-Rod to contribute in the middle of the order. If not, Beltran might find himself back as the regular DH and Rodriguez might be taking a seat on the bench. And that’s no joke.

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